Alternative Gift Catalogue not Just for Christmas

Toronto: Alternative gift giving has become an increasingly popular phenomenon as people grow tired of receiving more and more “stuff” on special occasions like birthdays, Christmas, and anniversaries.

Recognizing this growing trend, The United Church of Canada has been testing an alternative gift-giving catalogue for the past three years and is now ready to offer it to people beyond the church itself. This year’s selection of gifts includes purchasing farm animals for women working in cooperatives in Kenya, building wells in Nicaragua, and buying books for Aboriginal language revitalization in British Columbia.

“People appreciate the thoughtfulness of a gift, but many would prefer to give rather than receive,” says Cheryl Curtis, a staff person with the church’s Philanthropy Unit.

Curtis says she’s heard of some families who stuff a Gifts with Vision catalogue in everyone’s stocking on Christmas morning and each family member then gets to spend time deciding which gift they want to choose.

“This approach certainly saves the mess and waste of Christmas wrapping, beats standing in line on Boxing Day trying to exchange a gift, and is a fun activity that everyone can participate in,” says Curtis.

The 2014 Gifts with Vision catalogue provides ideas for alternative gifts ranging from $10 to $250. Gifts in the catalogue fall into three categories—Canadian, Global, and Aboriginal. The projects supported by this initiative are proposed by long-time partners of the church who appreciate the opportunity to receive additional funding for their work.

And while Christmas is one of the most popular times of year for gift giving, Gifts with Vision also offers options for other occasions.

Teacher gift: equips a child in India for school

Baby Shower gift: covers transportation costs for teen moms and their babies to get to medical appointments

Graduation gift: helps to support and train one physically or intellectually challenged youth in Zambia

Anniversary gift: provides food for one child and one adult for a week in Colombia

Birthday gift: serves up a hearty breakfast for 25 people in Victoria, British Columbia

Gifts with Vision can be purchased either online or by phone (1-800-288-7365 or 416-253-5456).

(United Church of Canada)